Crisis communication Belgian Foreign Affairs internationally recognised

In a study on the digital communication of world leaders published today by Twiplomacy, the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is praised for its online crisis centre and Facebook group #BelgenVoorElkaar #BelgesSolidaires #BelgierFürEinander. Both were set up to assist stranded Belgians abroad.

The global COVID-19 pandemic affects many facets of our lives, and this of course also translates into our digital interactions: people search for information, for reassuring advice, or for a helping hand via social media.

This has not escaped the attention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs either, and in addition to its call centre, an entire Facebook team was set up to answer thousands of questions from concerned citizens abroad around the clock. For this purpose, colleagues in Brussels were called in, but diplomats abroad also provided real-time information via Facebook Messenger.

As a result of the cancellation of regular flights, the closure of airspace and airports and strict lockdown measures in sometimes remote areas, it soon became clear that many of our fellow countrymen would have to stay abroad longer than initially planned. The Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, therefore, decided to set up a Facebook group #BelgenVoorElkaar #BelgesSolidaires #BelgierFürEinander to provide a forum where stranded travellers can go for help and advice from Belgians who live permanently abroad. In no time at all, the group had more than 7,000 members. Hundreds of posts in more than 50 countries made connections towards a (temporary) solution. "A very efficient way of connecting and communicating with citizens in two directions and an example to follow for other foreign ministries and governments", says Twiplomacy.

For Foreign Minister Philippe Goffin a clear recognition of the continuing commitment of his administration, both in Brussels and in the 118 diplomatic and consular posts, which show 24/7 what the words “publice service” really mean.

Obviously, Belgian Foreign Affairs will continue its efforts to bring its citizens back home. In the past weeks, more than 30 special flights have been organised and a total of more than 7,000 Belgians have already been repatriated. Some 2,000 Belgians have been able to return to Belgium via other European capitals, thanks to the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Conversely, several citizens from other EU Member States have been able to make their way home via Brussels.

Twiplomacy is a worldwide reference in the field of digital political and diplomatic communication. You can read the full study here: https://twiplomacy.com/blog/world-leaders-on-facebook-2020/.